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Section 508

April 8th, 2014

The secret to every app success

At the start of this year, we analysed the success and failure of over 1000 apps developed by us and our clients. The analysis covered every attribute from user research, entertainment and utility value, User Experience, Performance, Social Engagement, Development method (Native, Web app or Hybrid), in-house or external development as well as time and budget available.

Although all of the above play an important role, we identified 5 key findings which reveal the secret to making your app a success. We will discuss these as part of a 5-secret series starting with arguably the most important. Namely, user testing during the development process.

Although many of our clients claim not to have the time to carry out user testing, it is common sense that this is precisely one aspect of app development you do not want to skip. Test the app with your target users as you’re developing it and chances are pretty high that you will develop something the users want. Wait until after you’ve uploaded your app to the appstore and you will most probably find that you got it wrong. Or even worse, try to develop an app that is perfect before you launch and you will most probably fail completely as you’ve run out of budget and time. Furthermore, you may end up with a product that contains all your requirements as a company or brand, but doesn’t take into consideration what your users want or find engaging.

So why don’t developers and brands include users during development? These are some of the top excuses given
“I don’t want users to test the app before it’s finished” – Product Owner
“We don’t have the time and resources to do user testing” – Project Manager
“I don’t know how to do user testing” – Developer
“We have a fixed budget and timeline that doesn’t allow for changes” – Project Manager
“We don’t have the tools to do user testing” – Account Manager
Excuses and more excuses.

But involving users in the development process doesn’t have to be hard. This is all you need:

  • A group of minimum 14 people that don’t have a personal interest in the product (can be less or more but 14 gives a good sample)
  • A distribution tool for test versions of the app such as Testflight on iOS devices
  • Distribution list / e-mail list to the test panel
  • Feedback/survey tool such as Surveymonkey to get anonymous feedback from the user
  • Sprint plan that takes into account user feedback throughout the project
  • Agreement with the customer / product owner on how to reprioritise scope based on the user feedback
  • A test plan including the activities and tools above from the first design iteration to launch

There are of course much more sophisticated testing methods and tools that can be used, but the most important thing is that you do it to begin with.

At DMI we’ve committed to including user testing in every project going forward. I hope you do the same!

If you have questions about the tools and methods we use then please contact me or someone else in our team through the contacts page on our website.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for our next posts in this series where we share further secrets guaranteed to make your app a success!

Tags: App development QA testing

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